Missal Changes, Part One: Defined by Prayer

Besides bringing our words into harmony with the rest of the Church, there is a spiritual component to consider: In this exchange, the priest expresses his prayer that God's action will prepare the people to undertake their mission of helping to transform the world. And the people's response helps to assure the priest of their prayers for him, by recognizing the priestly spiritual gift of Orders that allows him to undertake his ministry at the altar.

Penitential Rite, the Confiteor

Here is the 1970 translation:

I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,

that I have sinned through my own fault

in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do.

And I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Here is the new translation:

I confess to almighty God
and to you my brothers and sisters
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,

through my fault,
through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;

therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,

all the Angels and Saints
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

You can see the changes readily in the bold print above. The words in bold are found in the Latin text, but were omitted in the 1970 translation. They will be restored in the new translation.

The words "greatly" and the three-fold acknowledgement of our faults reflect a more precise translation from the original and convey more deeply the theological underpinnings of coming before God as a penitent preparing for Mass.

This column will take up this subject a few more times between now and the end of November. In the meantime, begin to seek out your own instruction on the new Roman Missal. Make sure to check local diocesan and parish listings for presentations and learning opportunities. There are also many books, media, websites, and parish programs that can assist our learning. (See resources listed below.)

Fr. James Turner, a pastor and author from Missouri says, "Our greatest challenge is to get inside those [prayers] and make them sound like our prayer and not just the missal's prayer. We need to spend time with the prayer ourselves, meditating on them and figuring out more deeply what they mean, imagining some context in our own lives that can make this prayer more authentic for us." (The Church's Common Treasure, Committee on Communications, USCCB, p. 4)

Related Reading:
The Translation: A Renewed Understanding of Love

Resources available for free:
USCCB: Welcoming the Roman Missal

Changes in the People's Parts
Catholic TV's series: "Preparing for the New Roman Missal"
—video recordings of a symposium for priests
OSV's Roman Mission revision readiness plan
—helpful suggestions on how to prepare for the new translation

Resources available for purchase:
Magnificat's Roman Missal Companion
A pocket-sized booklet, with complete prayers and commentary

A New Translation for a New Roman Missal—DVD set featuring talks by Msgr. James Moroney of Vox Clara

The Church's Common TreasureA booklet produced by the USCCB containing eleven essays exploring the history and purpose of the new translation

8/31/2011 4:00:00 AM
  • Catholic
  • A Word in Season
  • Missal
  • Translations
  • Christianity
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Pat Gohn
    About Pat Gohn
    Pat Gohn is a Catholic writer, speaker, and the host of the Among Women Podcast and blog. Her book Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is published by Ave Maria Press.